Cluster Bombs aren’t Clever

None of them.

On Monday, over a hundred countries are gathering in Dublin to negotiate a new international treaty to ban cluster munitions

Our own Ministry of Defence is fighting against a total ban. They would like to see two types of cluster bomb retained for continued military use (which I think is the current UK position), arguing that their so-called smart bombs don’t cause as much damage as other cluster munitions.  Well I’m not sure just how much comfort that will bring to those already affected by the ‘less harmful’ bombs but I’d love to know which of these cluster bombs are safer and kinder than the rest.  Truth is, there can be no genuine distinction made between the types of cluster weapons and the efforts to suggest *levels of harmfulness* is just military spin in order to try and justify their continued use.  It’s like trying to tell us that some cluster bombs and their lethal little bomblets can distinguish between civilians and legitimate targets and will explode accordingly.   

The MoD is also arguing that one of the bombs they want to keep in use made a direct contribution to saving the lives of UK service personnel in Basra during the Iraq invasion.  Well, apart from the fact that the need for them to be saved would be non-existent if our stupid government hadn’t put them there in the first place, why would the lives of innocent civilians who have no involvement in war except for being in the unfortunate position of living in a war zone, be of any less value than the lives of soldiers?  It’s not like there was a draft – a forced conscription or anything.  These were paid service personnel who were there because they voluntarily joined the armed forces.  That’s not to say I don’t value the guys who serve in the armed forces but let’s face it, the people most unfairly affected by the cluster bombs are the innocent civilians, many of them children.

Anyway, the conference – predictably, some countries, including the UK, are seeking exemptions from the ban such as demanding a transition period in order for them to develop alternatives.  This would delay the ban from coming into effect and in the meantime, the fear and devastation caused by the unexploded little time-bombs will continue.  While the arms developers procrastinate over suitable alternatives, people will continue to be maimed and killed.   

Some countries, including the US, are insisting on retaining their rights to use these indiscriminate weapons while some countries want to retain the right to use the ‘kinder, smarter’ ones.  Steve Goose, director of the Arms division at Human Rights Watch is hoping that an international agreement for a total ban will stigmatise these weapons and bring international condemnation on any country that uses them.

As I see it, there’s really no argument to be made for making any compromise at all because the Geneva convention should already provide civilian protection against these bombs.  The convention prohibits the indiscriminate and excessive use of force and forbids military strikes which have a likelihood of causing civilian death and injury.  All cluster bombs quite clearly fall under this category although, of course, the Geneva protocol has never stopped the American and Israeli military from using this type of weapon, nor the UK, so a new treaty is unlikely to make a difference to their style of warfare.  And the likelihood of these countries ever having to face war crimes due to their illegal deployment of these weapons is . . . well, not bloody likely at all so, no deterrent there.

Ultimately, in my view, cluster bombs have the same humanitarian impact as landmines and they leave the same legacy.  They deserve the same attention and should be made illegal. 

Sign the petition calling fort a total ban.  No exemptions.  Nothing short of a total prohibition will suffice.


9 responses to this post.

  1. You’re right, Earthpal. Clusters bombs are forbidden so any projected agreement on banning them is sheer hypocrisy. I have signed the petition although I don’t live in Britain.


  2. The agreement must be made for all countries that have used them to guarantee the immediate collection of those millions of bombs that are still there lurking for any innocent leg to step on them.


  3. You’ve been tagged 😆


  4. Thanks Jose.

    The Independent reports today that Britain has been accused of being the chief obstacle to the treaty and that America is pressuring the British government to resist signing up to a ban:


  5. Cluster bombs, any bombs are outrageous ….

    … London didn’t like it in 1940 when Hitler did it …

    … no one likes it now … that’s obvious. Ban the bloody things!!


  6. Yes I totally agree Matt. Ban them all.


  7. Yes, Matt, and put all those who are for them inside wide walls!!

    On reflection a desert would be a better choice.


  8. Nooo, blast them out into space! Far, far, far away ……


  9. Yes!! That would include George fuster-cluck Bush!


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